Like so many events over the past year, the annual remembrance looked much different because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Canceled were the traditional candlelight vigil and community walk retracing Ilene's path from that fateful afternoon, Jan. 30, 1989. In their stead, brief yet poignant video messages shared by Dublin Police Services featuring Ilene's father Mike Misheloff and Police Chief Garrett Holmes.
Tri-Valley law enforcement agencies do such a good job in calling attention to cold cases like Ilene's throughout the year. It's important to keep these unsolved investigations in the public discourse whenever possible. Youth abductions especially.
Many with ties to Dublin and the neighboring communities know the Ilene Misheloff case very well. It wasn't a story I was familiar with before starting at the Weekly, but it's one that has stuck with me on a personal level ever since I covered the Jan. 30 anniversary for the first time several years ago.
For one, Ilene is not a very common name, but just happens to be my grandmother's — pronounced the same but spelled differently — Eileen.
Also, the circumstances of Ilene's story and the devotion of her family and local police toward solving her disappearance remind me of a missing child case near home when I was a kid.
Xiana Fairchild's abduction in Vallejo in 1999 is one of the first memories I have of local TV news coverage. I can still picture in my mind the school portrait that media and posters around town used to raise awareness about Xiana (who was the same age as my sister). And Midsi Sanchez, the girl who escaped the clutches of the same kidnapper in 2000, went to the same elementary school I had just a few years earlier.
Midsi's escape and subsequent investigation led police to discover the same man had abducted and ultimately killed Xiana. Similar characteristics in one case helped detectives solve the other.
And so it was that after charges were filed against previously convicted murderer David Emery Misch last December for the 1988 cold-case kidnapping and homicide of 9-year-old Hayward girl Michaela Garecht, Dublin police began probing a possible connection. Michaela's abduction and Ilene's disappearance happened almost two months apart.
Though no evidence has linked Misch to Ilene thus far, Dublin detectives are working with the FBI and Hayward and Fremont police to see if any of their evidence is pertinent to the Misheloff case.
Ilene's unsolved abduction still weighs heavily on Dublin Police Services all these years later.
"Dublin Police Services will continue to follow up on any and all leads associated with this case. If you have any information regarding Ilene's disappearance, please contact (us)," Holmes said in his video message this Jan. 30 that focused on recounting the circumstances of the case.
Mike Misheloff made a personal plea, too, for anyone with relevant information about his daughter's abduction to come forward.
"Our lives were forever turned over when she disappeared 32 years ago. Please know that we haven't given up hope of finding her," he said in his video message.
Sadly, the 2021 anniversary was the family's first since the passing of Maddi Misheloff, mother of Ilene, her twin brother Brian and their older brother Rob. Maddi, a well-known member of the Dublin community and an elected director for DSRSD, died last April after battling bladder cancer.
I had the opportunity to interview Maddi and Mike by phone two years ago, ahead of the 30th anniversary of their daughter's disappearance. In addition to their openness and honesty, I was struck by how hopeful they remained that Ilene's case would be solved, that they'd be reunited with her again one day.
I share that hope for the family.
The late Maddi Misheloff said it best when she told me in 2019: "Anyone that has any information that they have kept to themselves, call the police. It doesn't matter ... Getting her back is what matters."
Anyone with information about the case can contact Dublin police Sgt. Alan Corpuz at 925-833-6670. Tips can remain anonymous. There remains a $95,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for Ilene's disappearance.